You’ll notice there are a few changes. These are the result of hundreds of conversations with our audience, staff, artists, partners, schools and arts organisations across East London, Essex and beyond. We’ve taken what the Queen’s Theatre does best and opened it up to new influences including collaborations with the best arts organisations in the UK, work by exciting local independent theatre-makers and we’re making it all available to more people than ever before.
This season kicks off a new era of creative partnerships, starting with the regional premiere of hit musical Made in Dagenham, a co-production with the brilliant New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich. This is followed by Bob Larbey’s moving comedy A Month of Sundays, directed by Russell Bolam, one of the UK’s most exciting young directors, a thrilling new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime and, to round it all off, our spectacular traditional panto Cinderella.
Outer Limits is another new venture – a rolling festival of cutting edge modern theatre made by performers and companies from Essex and the outskirts of London. Original, exciting and intimate, it includes performances by Southend’s Old Trunk theatre company, Romford’s Dan Murphy, Wandsworth’s Spare Tyre and Essex performance poet Justin Coe.
There will be more opportunities for local performers to be supported and perform at the Queen’s Theatre. So if you are a performer, theatre-maker or artist in Essex or Outer London, come join us for the launch of our new artist support programme, Outer Limits on Saturday 3 September at 6pm at the Queen’s. There’ll be a chance to find out more, have a drink and meet the Queen’s Theatre team and each other. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free place.
This season we’re making it easier for more people to enjoy our programme. If you live in Havering and have never been to the Queen’s before, look out for our Good Neighbour scheme offering tickets for £1. We’re also introducing our first dementia-friendly performances and holding our second Relaxed Performance this year – see here for more details.
You’ll have noticed that we have had a rebrand and we have a new website. We wanted to change the way we spoke to our audiences and how we appeared to potential audiences. So last year we started to talk to design agencies. We received 20 pitches including some close to home and others from further afield. We awarded AVE Design the project; they understood our organisation and ambition the most. With them, we embarked on an exciting journey, which included conversations with our audience and workshops with staff, audience and partners. I learnt so much about the theatre through this process. We hope you like the way we look. We ’re delighted with the result. It captures the spirit of the organisation. It’s creative, warm, colourful, approachable and chatty.
‘In early 2016 we successfully pitched to be the sole agency to deliver a full rebrand and website redesign for Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. The theatre had recently appointed a new artistic director, Douglas Rintoul, resulting in the brand positioning needed to be developed to reflect new creative endeavours. Working with a project steering group we devised full brand and digital strategies for the organisation.
Following the strategic work we commenced with the creative, developing a new brand identity which was rolled out across the core collateral and templates. For this identity we wanted to create a logo that could be animated so that it could be projected in the foyer, on the stage in the auditorium and top/tailing any YouTube content. We also wanted the brand to capture the energy and hands-on approach that the theatre held as a core value, and so we worked with speech bubbles and rhetorical statements to add personality and dialogue to the brand. We wanted the brand to be as unique as the content the organisation was delivering, so we created a bespoke font for the Theatre to own and use here-on in.
We worked closely with the project delivery team at Queen’s, making the process very much a collaboration between us. This has resulted in a brand that really captures the heart and soul of the Queen’s Theatre.’ AVE Design
This season, we’re producing a second brochure. It’s a new brochure for schools and colleges. It shows off all the incredible activities and support our learning and participation department has to offer. Take a look here.
You’ll also see that there is a change in start times from 8pm to 7.30pm for some performances, generally at the start of the week. This is a result of a survey with you on social media and here at the theatre. Also we wanted to make it easier for schools and families to attend.
Some audience members have asked me, ‘What has happened to cut to the chase…?’ The name has gone but quite naturally there will be the formation of a new ensemble of versatile actors over the coming seasons that will include many cut to the chase… actors. The casts of upcoming shows already include some of these familiar faces.
It’s difficult to have a semi-permanent company of actors when you’re co-producing. The company of Made in Dagenham will up sticks after the last performances here and head to the New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich where they will perform the show for another four weeks, and we’ll have to bring in a whole new team for the next production. But co-producing has wonderful benefits. These partnerships afford us the ability to make large-scale work, to take greater risks in our programming and introduce the building to new models of working. Our companies get to perform their shows for longer and whole new audiences get to see our work.
Also I felt that we didn’t need to name our company of actors any more. The Queen’s Theatre and its long history and its entire staff are what I want to celebrate. I want there to be no distinction between our staff that work front of house, in administration, backstage or onstage. The naming of a company of actors separates that group from the rest of our wonderful team, many of whom have been here for a long time. Our work is going to be seen by organisations all over the UK and soon in Europe, and I wanted the name of the theatre to be blazoned over the fliers, posters and programmes.
Three shows in my first season will have actor-musicianship at their very hearts but I will not label them as such. They will be great stories that happen to be told in a gorgeous way. And other great stories will be told in equally gorgeous ways.
My ambition is to fill as many people’s lives with wonderful life-affirming stories and for everybody to know about how brilliant the Queen’s Theatre is.